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Kroger expands autonomous delivery with new vehicles

The Kroger Co. is expanding its digital offerings in Houston with the introduction of next-generation autonomous delivery vehicles.

The country’s largest grocery retailer builds on an existing partnership with autonomous vehicle supplier Nuro. In 2019, Kroger and Nuro uploaded a A stand-alone grocery delivery service pilot project in Houston, following a successful pilot project in Scottsdale, Arizona. In both pilot projects, Kroger delivered fresh groceries with fully electric autonomous vehicles supplied by Nuro.

Building on Nuro’s new third-generation vehicles, Kroger will continue to expand autonomous grocery delivery in Houston. Kroger sees this expanded collaboration as a key part of its developing seamless ecosystem, designed to help customers who want to buy online, in-store, or a combination of the two.

Other key components of Kroger’s homogeneous ecosystem include high-tech customer processing centers (CFCs). Introduced in Partnership With UK-based online grocer Ocado in May 2018, the CFC model combines vertical integration, machine learning and robotics with fast and affordable delivery service for fresh food.

CFC is also one of the models designed for the grocer’s flexible and vertically integrated delivery network, which also includes smaller automated facilities and hub-and-spoke locations, such as a recently opened Indianapolis rapid delivery facility. In CFCs, more than 1,000 robots traverse giant 3D grids, orchestrated by proprietary air traffic control systems in the unlicensed spectrum. The grid, known as The Hive, has bins with products and customer orders ready for delivery.

As customers’ orders approach their delivery hours, bots pick up products from The Hive, which are presented to stations for items to be sorted for delivery through an algorithmic sorting process.

Kroger isn’t the only major retailer testing Nuro autonomous vehicles in its last mile supply chain. 7-Eleven is engaging Nuro in a stand-alone delivery pilot project in Mountain View, California. Customers in the service area can place orders through the retailer’s 7Now delivery app to have their products delivered to them by a Toyota Prius equipped with Nuro’s auto-navigation technology.

And in In december 2019, Walmart and the Domino’s pizza chain started testing the Nuro R2 for deliveries in the Houston area. NakedRo’s new third-generation vehicle is designed to carry more cargo and enable more deliveries, with double the cargo volume of the company’s second-generation vehicle. The auto production vehicle will also feature modular inserts to customize storage and new temperature-controlled compartments to keep goods warm or cool.

Safety enhancements will include an external airbag to further improve pedestrian safety outside the vehicle, as well as a multimodal detection suite, including cameras, radars, lidar and thermal imaging cameras. All-Electric Autonomous Vehicles Also Support Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social and environmental impact plan, and are aligned with Kroger’s commitment to reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our expanded collaboration with Nuro supports Kroger’s commitment to providing fresh food, at a great price, all without asking our customers to compromise,” said Yael Cosset, Senior Vice President and CIO of Kroger . “The role of autonomous vehicles in our homogeneous ecosystem continues to increase, helping to meet our customers in the context of their day without compromising quality or value, while contributing to our goals of long-term growth and sustainability. “

“We are delighted to expand our long-standing strategic partnership with Kroger and continue our shared vision for the future of freight delivery,” said Dave Ferguson, co-founder and president of Nuro. “We look forward to leveraging our third generation autonomous vehicle, the most advanced to date, to continue building on the success of this program. “

“We are delighted to expand our collaboration with Nuro here in Houston, one of the largest cities in the United States,” said Laura Gump, president of the Houston Kroger division. “Our associates, customers and the city are embracing innovation and we’re excited to soon be able to bring this grocery delivery service to more buyers across the region.